Child Soldiers Worldwide (CSW)


Gabriela Saab, Contributor

Alyi Patrick Lalur, Contributor

 

Mette Newth, Contributor

Zinthiya Ganeshpanchan, Contributor

HumanDHS is primarily grounded in academic work. We are independent of any religious or political agenda. However, we wish to bring academic work into "real life." Our research focuses on topics such as dignity (with humiliation as its violation), or, more precisely, on respect for equal dignity for all human beings in the world. This is not only our research topic, but also our core value, in line with Article 1 of the Human Rights Declaration that states that every human being is born with equal dignity (that ought not be humiliated). We agree with Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development, who advocates the building of bridges from academia as follows, "I have always believed that good scholarship can be relevant and consequential for public policy. It is possible to affect public policy without being an advocate; to be passionate about peace without losing analytical rigor; to be moved by what is just while conceding that no one has a monopoly on justice." We would like to add that we believe that good scholarship can be relevant and consequential not only for public policy, but for raising awareness in general.


Alyi Patrick Lalur, Director and Coordinator, kindly writes (13th June 2005):
Dear Evelin
I was over joyed reading your mail this morning. I found the links created very useful both in contents and the global appeal they carry. They are not only important as sources of information but a lifelong learning center. I have consulted several friends here and they share common concern that child soldiers worldwide suffer from psychological insecurity and inadequate protection.
Many of the people I talked to suggested that we could name the page "child soldiers worldwide" with the aim of promoting the physical and psychological protection of child soldiers worldwide. Their concerns are that at present International laws do not adequately protect the psychological wellbeing of child soldiers during reintegration and demobilisation. Besides after reintegration litle attention is paid to the child soldiers when in the community.

I feel honored by your offer of working with Mette Newth as Director and Coordinator of the child soldier project.I will be writing to Mette Newth shortly so that this idea is developed further. If you find the above suggestion ok then in the next week we could start working on the project frame.
Best wishes and thanks for all your efforts.
Sincerely
Patrick




Please see here upcoming synergy:

Mette Newth, International Steering Committee for the Beacon for Freedom of Expression, Oslo, Norway, kindly writes (30th May, 2005):
I would like to suggest that child soldiers should be given some focus, a terrible case og 300.000 kids around the world subjected to gross humiliation and fear in order to turn them into slaves and killing-machines.

Alyi Patrick Lalur, United Nations University for Peace, Uganda/UK, responds to Mette's reflections as follows (June 8, 2005):
Dear Evelin. Good greetings. I hope your are fine and happy there. I can see that the list of those preparing for the workshop has become longer. Thank you for your hard work. When I read Mette Newth's reflections on child soldiers, I feel she shares a lot of concerns about the phenomena as I do. Could you please link me with her so that we can work together on the issues? She has amazing talents in documentation that I will be starting in September 2005. If it is fine with you and her we could start exchanging documentary, pictures and children's writing which can be edited and included into the confrence book. Think about this suggestion and let me know how both of you feel about the idea. It is easy for me to send the documentary on DVD tapes and she does the selections and the editing. I will be writing to you later. Warm greetings and blessings to you. Patrick.

Mette kindly responds to Patrick's message (June 9, 2005):
Dear Patrick and dear Evelin, I am so pleased that you both responded to my worried note. And Patrick, YESSS!!!! Indeed, I would be most honoured to co-operate with you on your immensly important documentation project. As for qualifications, you might like to know that I have been a professional translator and writer for 30 odd years, my books have been translated into 17 languages, most of my writing has been dedicated to children and young adults, simply because they hold our future in their hands. Therefor they deserve the best we adults have to offer of compassion and knowledge. That is also the main reason why I believe that our group should pay attention to the fate of the child soldiers; their broken lives concerns us all on many levels. Whatever you think I might be able to contribute to your idea, Patrick, I will be at your service. For your information; at the moment I am workig on a novel aimed at young adult Norwegian readers, my focus is the random meeting between three young people with very different backgrounds and cultures, but all three have broken lives, one - my "hero" is an illegal refugee to Norway, a child soldier, the dramatic conflicts they experience and have to solve through the meeting, and their development of compassion and solidarity. In reality, quite a number of under-age asylum seekers come alone to Norway, also former child soldiers and deserters from for example the Sundanese army, but the Norwegian system, both responsible authorities and people in general, tend to turn a blind eye on their evident need for psychtriatic care, leaving many young people to cope with their terrible experiences and shame on their own. The purpose of my novel is to make an impact on readers, to stir into motion feelings of respect and responsibility. Although fictional, I always build my novels on fact, and in this novel i will integrate a lot of facts and what to to about it. So, Patrick, while I would very much be of assistance to your project, your expertise and the childrens stories will indeed be of value to me (naturally, not to be copied by me! But as as inspirations or correctives. Please let me know what you think. Looking forward to hear from you. Best regards from Mette.

Patrick kindly writes (June 11, 2005):
Dear Evelin
Thanks very much indeed for the great work you are doing. I have no problem with you posting my conversation with Mette on the web site. If it is not very expensive opening a website for child soldiers studies please go ahead. As Mette noted there is urgent need to study the problems of child soldiers and bring the issues to the attention of the authority. Mette kindly wrote that authorities around the world "tend to turn a blind eye on their (child soldiers) evident need for psychtriatic care, leaving many young people to cope with their terrible experiences and shame on their own" .This is an inspiration that reinforces my urge to document and write on the plights of the fogotten lot of children suffering in the hands of adults.
From September 2005 I will start working on the documentation project which I have called "Peacebuilding Information Campaign". If you are done with deciding on opening a web site for child soldiers be sure of recieving lots of work from me.
The following are the key objectives of my up coming work; To document the experiences of the people of Northern Uganda in order to make new contributions to the processes of seeking reconciliation and peaceful coexistence, between the community and returned child soldiers. To raise awareness among the international community about the situation of child soldiers in the world, and about local community initiatives to improve the situation of child soldiers in the world. in this case I will be working in Uganda and Southern Sudan.
Am not very sure whether I will be able to get some organisations which are interested to joine me on this project. Mette is positive and am glad.
I must thank you most sincerely for your hard work and look forwards to hearing from you.
Patrick.

Patrick kindly writes (June 11, 2005):
Dear Evelin
I was over joyed reading your mail this morning. I found the links created very useful both in contents and the global appeal they carry. They are not only important as sources of information but a lifelong learning center. I have consulted several friends here and they share common concern that child soldiers worldwide suffer from psychological insecurity and inadequate protection.
Many of the people I talked to suggested that we could name the page "child soldiers worldwide" with the aim of promoting the physical and psychological protection of child soldiers worldwide. Their concerns are that at present International laws do not adequately protect the psychological wellbeing of child soldiers during reintegration and demobilisation. Besides after reintegration litle attention is paid to the child soldiers when in the community.

I feel honored by your offer of working with Mette Newth as Director and Coordinator of the child soldier project.I will be writing to Mette Newth shortly so that this idea is developed further. If you find the above suggestion ok then in the next week we could start working on the project frame.
Best wishes and thanks for all your efforts.
Sincerely
Patrick

Mette kindly writes (June 21, 2005):
Dear both, Patrick and Evelin.

Thank you both for emails, and please forgive my much too late response  due to rigid deadlines on work. I am equally sorry that my reply are hurried, but I promise to mend my ways soonYes, I would be most honoured to act as co-director to Patrick for the  web page on Child Soldiers.

May I suggest a few angles of this important issue that you, Patrick, might feel could give good background to your documentation project starting in September in Gulu?

Bearing in mind that children as soldiers are a global issue, South America being another continent were children frequently suffer this fate, I should like us to look for material onsimilarities and differences between the child soldiers of Uganda/Sudan and that of say Columbia, keeping in mind that military training of children have been common in most Western societies such as England, Germany, and not least Russia.

•  Look for answers to the question; what are the practical reasons/advantages (seen from a military point of view) of employing children as soldiers? (remembering Irans gruesome use of young children as cannon fodder in the war between Iran and Iraq 1980es)
•  Highlight the fact that every abducted child forced into any type of army is a childhood stolen/broken/lost. Not only lost to the child in question, but to his/her family, village, society. Thus the childrens personal stories are important elements in understanding the atrocities of forcing children to become killing machines in the adults wars.
•  Collect material on various methods of and preconditions for successful restoration of child soldiers to normal life. This question ties in with my point made to Patrick; that in our part of the world (including most of Europe I think), very little has been  done in the way of treating these children, they are very often illegal under age immigrants, alone in an alien world with their inner universe of horrors. Ticking bombs? Yes. In Norway, one recent case of spontaneous killings were made by former child soldier from Eritrea. Many more just suffer incredible pains without help.

The international society can stop this vile misuse of children. It must become a common responsibility to rid the world of this shame. This will indeed be my motivation for  our future work together!

Dear Patrick, I hope this will inspire your project, and please let me know if I can be of  assistance. Meanwhile I would very much appreciate some details about the daily life of girls and boys in the Gulu region around the age of 10 -12; school, play, dreams, hopes, familiy, friends, all those things that make us understand that every child soldier is a childhood lost. You have the right to be a child.
...
Warm thoughts and greetings to both of you,
from Mette.

Patrick kindly writes (July 28, 2005):
Dear Evelin, Zinthiya and Mette
Greetings and my appreciation to all of your efforts.
 
Zinthiya; thank you for joining us on the child soldiers worldwide page. I am so pleased to have you  with us on the mostly forgotten world wide concern. A problem that is consuming a lot of youthful lives and people in position to act do not want to acknowledge the gravity of the matter. If they do it is for political and economic gains without reflecting their decisions on the ground by ways of policy implementation. if you could take a look at the following website http://www.child-soldiers.org/regions you can understand what am talking about-worldwide neglect for children who are recruited to fight adults wars and in the fulfilment of greed and self worth. For Sri Lanka the situation is not better than any where in the other parts of the world http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=878 . Besides there is denail of the truth by many in the region http://www.child-soldiers.org/regions/country.html?id=200 attributions are made to the forces which can not be reached. However, the international legal instruments exist that make perpetrators accountable to the crimes they commit, implementation of these legal instruments have remained weak.
 
All; The fundamental question for us is; How can we approach the problem differently and better? Compilation of data alone may never have fundamental change. We should therefore start by having a frame of what can be achieved, who are going to consume our reports and how will the international community respond to these reports. I was reading about peace camps a few days ago, and I found out that they had tremendous impacts on the reduction of nuclear weapons in Europe. The establishment of the Peace Camps were also one of the reasons that led to the end of the cold war; people were tired of the obvious problem created by politicians and wanted an end to politic of arms race. Let us make the world know that every great politician of today was a child yesterday, like all those they are recruiting to fight their wars. How could we do this better and when should we start? Who should get involved? Where do we start?
 
Evelin; In the coming week of  August 1, I will send you DVD recording of the war in Northern Uganda on children if you could view it and see how to post it on the child soldier page I would greatly appreciate. I will send both the hard copy and the electronic version. Lets see what happens.
Thank you all and very much indeed.
Patrick

Mette kindly writes (July 28, 2005):
Dear All,
Thanks, Patrick, and if I understand your request to all of us correctly, you are saying that documentation must be followed by recommendation/actions - practical and political, and in my mind you point to the most serious problem, thus:   
"However, the international legal instruments exist that make perpetrators accountable to the crimes they commit, implementation of these legal instruments have remained weak." Why remains implementation of exitsting legal instruments weak? Could it have something to do with a deep rooted conviction in many of our cultures (including Western indeed!) that children are the parents'/adults' property -  until they come of age and are transformed into adults (human begins)? I apologise for my crude way of responding to Patricks important question. I believe in education, education, education, raising  issues, creating awareness amongst children themselves of their universal, individual human rights, changing attitudes and actions amongst adults. In short; I hope we will aopt a problems solving  attitude.
Best regards for now,
Mette

Alyi Patrick Lalur (2005)
Child Soldiers Worldwide: Uncharted Cycles of Slavery Beneath the Surface of International Shame
Paper prepared for the 2005 Workshop on Humiliation and Violent Conflict, Columbia University, New York, December 15-16, 2005.



 


Links

Please note that the entire HumanDHS website is maintained by volunteers, since its inception in 2003, and this is mainly done by Evelin Lindner. Until 2012, she usually pasted interesting news into this Links section. From July 2012 until 2017, she tagged interesting information on delicious.com. From 2017 onward, you see Evelin's personal list of interesting web links on Twitter:

On International Day, UN Demands End to Use of Child Soldiers in Conflict
12 February 2015 – From Afghanistan to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as the world's conflicts become more brutal, intense and widespread, children are finding themselves increasingly vulnerable to recruitment and deployment by armed groups, the United Nations warned today.

Why South Sudan’s Children Are Fighting Again
Some 12,000 children are estimated to be in the ranks of various armed groups in South Sudan.
Nairobi, 12 February 2015 (IRIN) - Thousands of children are fighting with government and rebel forces in South Sudan, reversing a painstaking demobilization program and fanning calls for war crimes trials as a better way to protect minors from recruitment. To mark the International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers, this article examines the dynamics of recruitment and the prospects for sustainable demobilization.

UN Envoy Urges Greater Efforts to End Use of Child Soldiers
February 2013 – From the besieged cities of Syria to the desert battlefields of Mali, children throughout the world continue to endure the indignities of forced conscription and suffer the resulting legacy of combat on their health and well-being, a top United Nations official warned today.

The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers
The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers works to prevent the recruitment and use of children as soldiers, to secure their demobilisation and to ensure their rehabilitation and reintegration into society.

War Child International
War Child International is a network of independent organisations, working across the world to help children affected by war. War Child was founded upon a fundamental goal: to advance the cause of peace through investing hope in the lives of children caught up in the horrors of war. War Child International currently consists of three implementing offices: War Child Holland, War Child UK and War Child Canada. These offices operate as equal partners, share the same aims and goals and work together in the field, but are totally autonomous, with independent trustees and financial coordination.

Campaign against Child Soldiers

Burma Army Frees Boy After Plea
The army in Burma has released a 14-year-old boy it had forcibly recruited, after his mother appealed for his return on international media. Sandar Win, who has terminal cancer, told the BBC's Burmese Service and Radio Free Asia (RFA) her pleas for his return had previously been ignored. But following her emotional media interviews two weeks ago, the army brought her son back to her house. ... The Coalition to Stop Child Soldiers says Burma has thousands of children in its armed forces, some as young as 11 years old...
Read more at http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/asia-pacific/8491376.stm.

Sudan 'Has 6,000 Child Soldiers'
By Amber Henshaw
BBC News, Khartoum
There are as many as 6,000 child soldiers, some as young as 11 years old, in the war-torn region of Darfur, the head of Unicef in Sudan says...
Please read the entire article at http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/africa/7796507.stm.

MPhil in Childhood Studies at NTNU in Trondheim, Norway
The Norwegian Centre for Child Research has a strong international orientation. The centre hosts national and international guest researchers and adjunct professors (5 non-Norwegian professors from 2005). NOSEB is a key institution within the international research network Childwatch International. The students on this programme will benefit from being a part of a strong international research milieu.

Conference on Child Slavery
An international conference is to be held on all aspects of child slavery at the Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation (WISE), University of Hull, UK in association with AntiSlavery International, Gilder Lehrman Center, Yale University and Free the Slaves on November 27-28 2008.
Following our highly successful conferences on Modern Slavery (November 2006), and Unfinished Business (May 2007), WISE is now organising a conference, in conjunction with partner organisations, to examine all aspects of child slavery worldwide, including bonded labour, trafficking, domestic servitude and child labour more generally. This is a first call for expressions of interest in attending and in giving workshop papers. Also visit WISE's website www.hull.ac.uk/WISE.

MPhil in Childhood Studies
Are you interested in children’s everyday lives and in childhood as a social and cultural phenomenon? Would you like to know about children’s lives in different parts of the world? What about the changing conditions of childhood in the era of globalization? If so, the international master’s programme in Childhood Studies might be perfect for you.
MPhil in Childhood Studies is offered by Norwegian Centre for Child Research (NOSEB). The programme aims to provide students with an understanding of the relation­ship between childhood and culture as well as the dynamics between economic, social and political conditions and children’s livelihoods and welfare in different contexts (fam­ily-life, day-care and schools, local communities etc). The programme covers the state of childhood in the western world and in countries in the South. The approach is multi-disciplinary, with particular emphasis on perspectives drawn from anthropology, sociology, geography, and history.

Child Soldiers in Sri Lanka: Forcible Recruitment from which Civilians Have No Escape
Press release from the National Peace Council of Sri Lanka, submitted by Zinthiya Ganeshpanchan

Chad Demobilises Child Soldiers
By Stephanie Hancock
BBC News, N'Djamena
Chad's government has signed a deal with the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) to begin demobilising child soldiers from its national army.
The agreement is a U-turn for the government, which as always denied that it has had under-age fighters....
Please read the entire article at http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/world/africa/6640351.stm.

Search for Common Ground Launches the Child Soldiers Initiative to Eradicate the Use of Child Soldiers, April 2007
The goal of the Child Soldiers Initiative of Search for Common Ground is to prevent the recruitment and use of children as soldiers. It is estimated that 300,000 children are being used in thirty countries worldwide, as soldiers, human mine detectors, porters, spies, messengers, and as a part of suicide missions. Girls are subject to being used as sex slaves and may be taken as involuntary "wives." This is one of the moral tragedies of our time.
Children living in countries experiencing conflict are physically vulnerable and are easily intimidated and manipulated. Most are abducted or recruited by force while others join armed groups out of desperation -- perceiving armed groups as their best chance for survival, an escape from hunger, or for protection. Many have witnessed or were forced to take part in acts of unbelievable violence, often against their own families or communities.
Many child soldiers are left physically disabled and/or emotionally traumatized, and most struggle to adapt to life as a civilian in a peaceful society. Without adequate help or intervention, these children are often drawn to aggression and crime, and are at high risk of re-recruitment.
Unfortunately this is not a new issue -- it touches many sectors, including peacekeeping, state and non-state military, humanitarian, human rights, inter-governmental, development, religious, diplomatic, and civil society groups. They have largely worked independently and have often found communication and collaboration difficult. Search for Common Ground started the Child Soldiers Initiative in 2006 to fill this void. The Child Soldiers Initiative is unique because it is broadly inclusive of all sectors involved, including both state and non-state military groups who recruit or kidnap child soldiers.
Last year SFCG brought together more than 100 experts from around the world to find practical news ways to deal with this pressing problem. The next meeting will be held in Ghana this summer, that will bring together a smaller group of experts, including former child soldiers, some from countries where recruitment is a current ongoing problem. CSI will then develop and implement a full engagement program in a country to be determined.
The Initiative is fortunate to have the leadership of Lieut.-Gen (ret.) The Honorable Senator Romeo Dallaire, Canada, who gained international recognition as Commander of the United Nations Observer Mission in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. His book about the genocide, Shake Hands With The Devil -- the Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, was made into a documentary film, with a feature film currently in production.
Senator Dallaire and Ishmael Beah, former child soldier and author of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, have begun working together to bring more visibility to this issue, and to raise funds for the Child Soldiers Initiative.

New Book: A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah
Portland, Oregon: Powell's Book, 2007

Former Child Soldier Launches Memoirs in UN Effort To Curb Use of Children in War
16 February 2007 – The first-hand account of a Sierra Leonean child soldier’s odyssey from three years of vicious fighting, via a United Nations-supported rehabilitation centre, to a prestigious United States university has joined the arsenal of weapons the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is mustering to fight a scourge that at present entraps some 250,000 youngsters...
Read the entire message at http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=21595&Cr=children&Cr1=conflict.

The International Journal of Mental Health, Psychosocial Work and Counselling in Areas of Armed Conflict
Volume 4: Number 3: Winter 2006, Special Number: Child Soldiers: Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration with Guest Editors; Reidar Ommundsen, Kees van der Veer and Mike Wessels.

Report on Violence Against Children
The Secretary-General’s Study Report on Violence Against Children was presented by his Independent Expert, Prof. Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro to the Third Committee of the General Assembly on 11 October 2006 in New York from 3pm.

DR Congo's children 'a priority'
Children, who bear the brunt of unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo, should be top of the agenda after polls on Sunday, says UN group, Unicef.
The Unicef report estimates that some 600 children still die every day as a result of conflict and disease.
Meanwhile, opposition supporters are reported to have stoned a motorcade of incumbent President Joseph Kabila.
A huge UN peacekeeping force is in the country to help it hold its first ever free presidential elections on Sunday.
The war in DR Congo officially ended with a peace agreement in 2003, but conflict continues in parts of the east, and the UN faces what the organisation's secretary general, Kofi Annan, calls a "logistical nightmare" in holding the polls.
Please read the entire article at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/5209340.stm.

Marie Breen Smyth (2002)
‘Child Combatants: International Law and Practice.’ Harvard Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research: Human Security Policy Workshop on Children and Armed Conflict; United Nations, New York, November 2002.

Marie Breen Smyth (2002)
(2002) ‘Child-Soldiers: The Case of Northern Ireland’ Trocaire Lenten Campaign Seminar: The Long Gallery, Stormont. March 2002

Children of War
In 1984, Judith Thompson co-founded Children of War, Inc., an award-winning international youth leadership organization that supported the vision and leadership of young activists from 22 war-torn countries.

Conference on “How to Stop the Use of Children as Soldiers"
April 8-10, 2001, Regional Human Security Center, Jordan Institute of Diplomacy, Amman